Inviting someone into your home to care for yourself or a loved one, whether they are visiting a house or an assisted living center, is a very big decision, so it’s important to ask the right questions when interviewing a home care agency. Use this as a helpful guide in your discussion.
1. How are you different than other home care agencies? They should be able to easily tell you clear, understandable unique points of differentiation that benefit you, the client and family.
Our answer? The Nursing Team has distinct advantages for our clients and their families. Our first and perhaps most important unique feature is that we can provide non-medical services (i.e. companionship, meal preparation and hygiene care) as well as medical care (ie, wound care, catheter insertions, ostomy care, medication administration). This is something you won’t find with most home care agencies. Secondly, we provide a Meaningful Match™ that ensures our client is thoughtfully paired with the best caregiver based on personality and interests. Thirdly, we like to say we are “family owned and lovingly operated” which we believe brings and extra layer of accountability and passion. And lastly, our corporate culture is one of JOY™, with a daily mission of transforming lives for the better.
2. Can you provide both non-medical and medical services? Just in case it doesn’t get covered when asking the first question, be sure to ask this specifically. You will be glad you did, even if your situation right now does not really call for any medical needs.
Our answer? (See answer to question #1.) Additionally, being able to access non-medical as well as medical care from the same agency will provide much needed consistency in caregiving, billing, communication and logistics, along with our focus on continuity of care. This means it will make the client’s caregiving experience (and the family-member’s handling of it) just a little bit less stressful since WE can coordinate the two services working together instead of the client needing to.
3. Caregivers: Tell me about your caregivers. Ask how they are screened, what their qualifications are and how long they have been with the agency. (Note: A short time with an agency isn’t a red flag, but longer tenure speaks volumes about the company itself.) Ask what happens if you (or your loved one) doesn’t get along with the caregiver provided. Ask if you will have the same caregiver every visit. And don’t forget to ask if your caregiver is certified. A certified caregiver can make a difference as your loved one moves from non-medical to medical care.
Our answer? The Nursing Team knows that our caregivers are our front line. We conduct thorough background checks, criminal record checks and medical screening. We truly care about our team members and that attitude works its way into the home of every client. Every decision we make is made in the best interest of the client.
4. How do you communicate with clients and family members? Communication protocols are an important part of the process, especially when one or more family members are involved and/or if the situation involves more high-level services. Be sure to understand how you will get updates and stay abreast of important information.
Our answer? The Nursing Team has a proven process that ensures family members will be made aware of daily activities, pertinent information and notable changes. We also have an efficient online system for communicating with our caregivers and documenting every visit. Our caregivers have access to a nurse 24/7 for any questions or concerns they might have during a visit. Working together is important to us.
5. What is your company culture…why are you in this business? We can’t emphasize this enough. While this is not a “check the box” kind of question, this will give you a good personal feel about the people who will be creating your care plan and overseeing the care for you and your loved one.
Our answer? The Nursing Team tagline “Life Changing Home Care” means that we want to beautifully transform the lives of our clients and their families. Our owners, Tom and Kathleen Chastain, both served as caregivers for their own mothers and value the beautiful gift of that experience. They both have a passion for easing the stress of caregiving for families while bringing JOY™ to the aging process and the caregiving journey for anyone they are privileged to serve.
6. Do you have experience in (insert specific concern here)? This may be a specific condition like Alzheimer’s, a specific physical challenge like wheelchair limitations or a challenging client personality. If it is something that concerns you, be upfront and be sure to ask about it.
Our answer? The Nursing Team is confident and prepared to handle any situation presented. Our caregivers have, literally, decades of experience spanning home care, nursing homes, and healthcare facilities. The caregivers—and owners — have dealt with dementia and conduct ongoing training to stay up-to-date on research and best practice care techniques. With each new client, we use our Meaningful Match™ process to assign a caregiver that will have the most success with the given situation.
7. Ask about cost and billing. How much does it cost? Can I auto pay or do you send a monthly invoice? How are the hours tracked? Is there a required minimum or a contract? Can I increase or decrease hours at any time or do you have a required notification. Be sure you are clear on what you are looking at since most home care situations are private pay and not covered by insurance.
Our answer? This is a huge finanical decision for families. We love to work with families to develop a care plan that makes sense for any sized budget. This can be a very stressful time and we’re here to help ease these concerns and answer all of your questions so the right decision can be made. Every situation is different, but we do not require long-term contracts.
8. Is there anything you DON’T do? Last but certainly not least. Be sure to ask this question as it’s just as important to know what an agency doesn’t do. And sometimes they may not specifically point that out.
Our answer? While The Nursing Team is a very comprehensive home care service, there are a few things we do not do. We do not provide hospice care. Instead, we prefer to work in tandem with hospice services and provide the consistency needed to the client. We consider it an honor to be with our clients until the last breath. We do not provide live-in home care but do provide 24/7 care. This just means that our clients will typically have two caregivers — one during the day and one at night.
In closing, we encourage clients and families to interview multiple home care agencies. This will make you feel more confident in your decision and will give you a good idea of the differences between your various options.
The Nursing Team would love to talk with you about how we can serve you and/or your loved one. Feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation to review your situation and to answer any other questions you may have.